Monday, October 31, 2016


     Last week I posted a quotation from the comment cards from the Bridger Wilderness (Bridger-Teton National Forest). Here's another:
     "Trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill."

     It read funny to me until I began thinking that many of the prayers I hear issued in and out of the program often come down to "No more uphill climbs." It's similar to Oprah Winfrey's prayer: "Lord, don't teach me nothin' new today." My late sister Judith used to phrase it this way, "God, please make two plus two not equal four," and my sister was a mathematician.

     Life on life's terms means taking life as it comes and dealing with the problems which are simply a part of being alive on this planet as a human being. If we're clean and using our brains and the tools provided by the program, we can climb the up-hills. If we use, our abilities to make those climbs diminishes day-by-day. That's why this blog is titled "Life Sucks Better Clean."

     And remember, without the up-hills we don't get to appreciate the down-hills.

Friday, October 28, 2016


     "Statistics are like bikinis: they show a lot, but not what's most important." ---Anonymous

     When I was in rehab, I was told that one out of three of us would make it into recovery. That was what the rehab's two-year follow-up numbers showed. Later I heard statistics from somewhere else that said that only one out of every thirty-six addicts ever gets clean and stays in recovery.
     Pretty discouraging numbers. They are the kind of numbers the disease of addiction uses to convince the addict that there is no point in trying. "Look at all those who failed. What makes you think you have a chance."
     Okay, here are some other numbers researched by members of NA and AA. One hundred percent of those who attend meetings, work the Steps, stay in touch with other recovering addicts, and otherwise continue to work a program of recovery get clean and stay in recovery. Everyone else gets to explore the "jails, institutions, and death" options.
      A friend of mine in recovery likes to put it this way: "Lots of meetings, lots of chances. Few meetings, few chances. No meetings, no chance in hell of recovery."
     Recovery: If you do the work, you can get and stay clean. If you don't, you won't. Do the thinking. Mental floss prevents truth decay.  

Thursday, October 27, 2016


In our quest for positive character traits, eventually we come to humility. This is a much misunderstood concept frequently confused with weakness, groveling, and humiliation. Humility is simply being in touch with reality. Humiliation is reality getting in touch with you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Otto von Bismarck
     "When you say that you agree to a thing in principle you mean that you have not the slightest intention of carrying it out in practice."
                             Otto von Bismarck

     Getting clean, stopping drinking, stopping smoking, stopping gambling, getting a job, making amends, taking your kids fishing, being there for life and loved ones; We are filled with good intentions as though thinking about rehab should earn you just as many life and love points as actually going.
     In making up your list of positive character traits, remember this:
Discipline is doing it.

Monday, October 24, 2016


Wilhelm von Humboldt
     My meditation for this morning is the following quotation by German philosopher Wilhelm von Humboldt:
     "How a person masters his fate is more important than what his fate is."

     This covers so many areas helped by Twelve Step programs, I hate to make a list for fear of excluding what is most important to you or me. The main program way of expressing the above principle is: "Instead of living in the problem, I live in the solution."

     An example of living in the problem: "I'm an addict! Look at what happened to me! Why me?"
     An example of living in the solution: "I'm an addict. So, what can I do about that?"

     When I am working with new writers explaining the parts of a story, I tell them the requirements for a collection of words to be a story.
     You have a character and the character has a goal. There is an obstacle between the character and the character's goal of such a nature that it attacks the character in the character's most vulnerable place. The character contests with the obstacle, trying one thing then another, at last changing and overcoming its own vulnerability, achieving its goal (happy ending) or not achieving its goal (futility tale).

     One of my many vulnerabilities is that I am an addict. When using, I am a slave, miserable, hurting others, and killing myself. I cannot safely use mood altering drugs and I wanted to be free of them. I could not overcome that vulnerability on my own, so I got help (Rehab, 12 Step Meetings, Sponsor, Service, Becoming a sponsor) put in a lot of work, and am now free. Happy ending (one day at a time).
     What's your goal? What obstacle is standing between you and your goal? What changes do you need to make to achieve your goal?


Saturday, October 22, 2016


Regarding the previous post, concerned with criticism and what kind of message an individual or meeting gives to the newcomer, the following Chinese proverb was passed on to me:
     "Do not use a hatchet to remove a fly from your friend's forehead."

     Love is wanting the best for someone.
     The best for a using addict is to get into recovery.
     The best for any addict in recovery, new or old-timer, is to stay in recovery.

     Time for a revised proverb: "Very tough to hear anything useful with a hatchet stuck in one's head."

Thursday, October 20, 2016


If your message to another recovering addict is "You're doing it all wrong," then . . . uh, well, . . . you're doing it all wrong.

In rehab this drug addict got in touch with that aspect of his disease first. Later, after learning what is "a drug" and what is "addiction," he took another look at his history with alcohol and began identifying himself at meetings as "I'm Skippy, I'm a drug addict and alcoholic."

Where he went to rehab, the AA meetings were quite ecumenical. Addiction is addiction, a drug is a drug, and the important thing is that the recovering addict is recovering one day at a time.

So the addict went home a thousand miles away, and went to a local AA meeting. When the introductions went around, he once more identified himself as "I'm Skippy and I'm a drug addict and alcoholic."

Several of those in the meeting made it very clear that there was to be no mention of "drugs" in that meeting, and they took up the majority of the meeting talking about the only things they were allowed to talk about at that meeting. "The only thing I heard at that meeting," said Skippy to his sponsor, "is 'you're doing it all wrong and you don't belong here'."

That message has chased more than one recovering person clean out of Twelve Step recovery. When a newcomer to our meetings comes in and doesn't do things exactly the way we do them, we don't correct them in front of everyone or tell them to go and try some other kind of program. We say "Welcome." If they hang around long enough, they pick up on our customs, which is secondary. Most important is that they stick around; They keep coming back.

So take a look at the message you are sending to the newcomer. What message are others in meetings sending to you? The only way this works is if we are all in this together.   

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Food For Thought

The following is an actual comment received in 1996 from the Bridger Wilderness (Bridger-Teton National Forest) registration sheets and comment cards:

"The places where trails do not exist are not well-marked."

Reminds me of something I heard on the news a few years ago. On the street a robber pointed a gun at a fellow and said, "Give me your wallet or I'll shoot you." The man said, "Well, I'm not giving my wallet to you." Then the robber pulled the trigger and the gun didn't fire. . . . so, the robber then pointed the pistol at his own face, looked down the weapon's barrel, and pulled the trigger a second time. This time the gun fired, killing the robber, and giving his intended victim food for thought for the remainder of his life.

I'm not certain what any of the above has to do with recovering from addiction except the old saying, "Life is tough, and it's even tougher if you're stupid."

Take care of yourself today, and do the next smart thing.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

What's It All About?

     There was a poster on the wall of my rehab counselor's office. Every time my group would go in there for a session, we would see it. It depicted a forest filled with leaves and these words: "An addict is a person who finds a single leaf and from it constructs a forest in which he immediately becomes lost."
     Getting clean does not change this. Stopping the drugs and making no other changes leaves the addict lost in the same old forest, but without the anesthetic. Changing things requires the addict to change him or herself. That kind of change, in Twelve Step programs, means attending meetings, listening at the meetings, getting a sponsor, using that sponsor, working the Twelve Steps with that sponsor, and not picking up.
     It's not just about getting clean; It is about getting into recovery; it's about moving from slavery to freedom.

Friday, October 14, 2016

It's Everywhere, It's Everywhere!

     I live in Maine and was sent to a local Wal-Mart for groceries and for a cheese grater. After getting all the foodstuffs on my list, I began searching for the cheese grater. I looked through the grocery area, then began on the other areas of the store. I could not find the cheese grater. Eventually I wound up back in the grocery end of the store and one of the employees asked me, "Can I help you sir?"
     I said, "Yes. I'm searching for a cheese grater than myself." It just slipped out.
     The employee nodded his head and said, "For that you need to go to Wisconsin."
     (If you do not understand the anecdote above, you need to go to more meetings).

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


     "I didn't know if I should call."
     "I didn't want to disturb you."
     "I wasn't sure it was any big deal."

     They are excuses I've heard for not calling a sponsor or another addict before slipping back into the nightmare of active addiction. One sponsor gave this "Should I call?" checklist to her newest relapse queen.

Answer the following:
     1. Am I worth recovery?
     2. Am I worth some of this person's time?
     3. Would I give that person some of my time if that person called me?
     4. Do I really want back into the nightmare?
     6. If you answer "Yes" or "No" to any of the questions above, CALL!

Monday, October 10, 2016

"I've Tried Nothing And I'm All Out Of Ideas"

     Early on I was told this was the battle cry of the loser: "I've tried nothing and I'm all out of ideas." There are other ways of saying it.

     "Meeting just aren't for me."
     "I tried the program for a week and it didn't keep me clean."
     "I didn't see anyone I could trust enough to be my sponsor."
     "My problem is alcohol, so using pot is okay."
     "My problem is drugs, so using alcohol is okay."
     "I already know what's in the literature so I know it doesn't work."

     In an earlier post I quoted something that I had been told many times by my sponsor and heard shared at meetings: "If you're not going anywhere, any path will get you there." The using addict who wants to get in recovery needs to change; needs to go somewhere else with location, with actions, with attitude, with life.  Change requires action. Effective action requires answers. To get answers one must go to where they are being offered. To hear and absorb answers one must have honesty, open mindedness, and willingness. For the answers to work, they must be used. To use the answers leading to recovery takes action.

     Today I do the next right thing for my recovery. When in doubt what that is, I talk to my sponsor, share at a meeting, read the program literature. When I know the next right thing, I do it.

     Action is a vital part of program recovery. It's harder for the disease to hit a moving target.

Friday, October 07, 2016


"Why does Sea World have a seafood restaurant? I'm halfway through my fish burger and I realize, Oh my God .... I could be eating a slow learner."  Lynda Montgomery

There is a saying, I don't know its source, that goes like this: "If you don't want a place at the table you've reserved a place for yourself on the menu."

What table? What menu?

If you attend Twelve Step meetings, you know what table. Recovering addicts gather around those tables and sit in those meeting circles three, five, seven, nine times a week because that's where experience, strength, and hope reside. That is where recovery is served.

What menu? It is addiction's menu, addiction's plan for the remainder of your life. "We are people in the grip of a continuing and progressive disease whose ends are always the same: jails, institutions, and death." (p.3, Narcotics Anonymous, 5th Ed., WSO Van Nuys CA, 1988)

Don't be a slow learner. Get yourself a place at the table.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016


Letting go is letting go of the wanting.
Resignation is saying "I can't have it but I still want it."
Letting go is saying (and accepting) "It's not for me," and doing without the wanting.

Life is a test. It is only a test. If this were your actual life you would have been issued better instructions.

California Clean and a Brief Peek at Reality

  Denial, that old Egyptian river. It is the principle symptom of active addiction. This is why addiction is often described as the disease...